Dawn Jeremiah is a bit of a wonder woman. She’s the marketing head of a digital agency, social enterprise co-founder, entrepreneur, a Ms World Malaysia runner-up (1st), a model, and a massive animal lover too. She enjoys travelling, scuba diving, and a lot more than we could reasonably mention! She works hard to enjoy the best that life has to offer and we love her sense of joie de vivre. We hung out for a bit to get to know her just a little more.
1. So hey Dawn. Pleasure having you with us! Let’s start off with a little insight into who you are and what you’re all about.
I was born and bred in Penang to a Eurasian father and Chinese mother. Growing up, I’ve always enjoyed the best of both worlds when it comes to heritage, cultures, values, and exposure. My parents guided me, but never forced me to do/study anything that I didn’t want to and had zero interest in. They’ve instilled a sense of exploration and curiosity in my sister and me and I’m constantly grateful for that.
I come from a family of voracious readers – in fact, I’m probably the one that read the least. We went to public schools and missionary schools and despite having to learn a variety of subjects in school, our general knowledge education continued at home with at least 4 types of encyclopedias. My mom raised my sister and me by hiding all the books in the house if we misbehaved. Funnily enough, the TV remained untouched (we never played video games even) but the books were all gone, much to our horror. I love telling this story to people because they all say it’s so unheard of, yet it’s so true. I love reading and that has got me interested in writing and all things media, explaining my career path. My love for animals has also been cultivated since I was a kid, as we’ve always had some sort of animal at home, be it dogs, puppies, guinea pigs, tortoises, rabbits and what have you. I also value human relationships, namely friendships that stood the test of time and I treasure good friendship, loyalty and kindness above anything else.
2) You’re pretty good at what you do, being the head of Marketing for a content creation and digital marketing agency. What’s the journey there like?
I must say, the journey has been a crazy one and it’s nowhere being close to over yet! I took my first step in the world of media while I was studying broadcast journalism in San Francisco, where I interned with the U.S. Department of State and joined ABC 7 News to work on the investigative and consumer reporting programme called ‘7 On Your Side’. After that, I moved into public relations, working on publicity campaigns for consumer tech and software start-ups within Silicon Valley.
I then went back into the entertainment world, doing publicity to launch fresh content to mass audiences on ntv7 under Media Prima. Later on I helped launch a start-up that became Asia’s 1st HD lifestyle channel, Life Inspired (LITV) in five countries on 14 pay-TV platforms.
Right now, my role is the Head of Marketing & Audience for Brand New Media, a content marketing agency that handles content creation and digital marketing for brands. Going into my role specifically, I manage digital content amplification and optimisation to obtain audience and user growth. We use data analytics to obtain insights and gauge campaign performance. Together with the team, I also helped launch two multi-channel networks and a number of content hubs for brands.
3) You’ve also had your fair share of TV time, being a beauty pageant finalist, an actress, and model. How did that help shape who you are today?
All this wasn’t planned and only my close family and friends know the extent of this story! I’ve done child modeling, catalogue and TV commercials when I was a kid but they weren’t much. I remember being 6 years old, in between takes, feeling miserable and wanting to go home and the only person excited about this was my mom! haha!
I also did a bit of runway in Penang during college just to get some extra spending cash. A year after I moved back to KL, there was a girl who dropped out at Miss Malaysia World. I decided to be the replacement and only informed my parents after I was well into the pageant. I thought, “Why not? I’m 24 and this is one of the things on my bucket list that I needed to do before I hit 30!” I missed out on all the travelling and fun publicity stuff that the girls did, and had to go straight into the one-on-one preliminary interviews and the final gala night. It was crazy but I was mentally prepared, especially for the Q&A segment, which I knew played a big part of the scoring.
As for acting, it was by sheer coincidence that I was doing publicity for a TV show when I met the producer and asked her “Ooh is acting difficult? How do people do it?” She said I should try it out and that she had a role in mind for me. The rest, as they say, was history. So for the next 3 years, I used up all my annual leaves at work to do a bunch of television series, movies and a film.
Being exposed to the other side of the camera lens played a significant role in shaping my perspective of the industry as a whole. It provided me with fresh insights and a well-rounded view of the television, media and content industry. It taught me how to address issues holistically and look at the final product from various angles — not just as a marketer or simply as a personality. I could explain to the press and various stakeholders why things are the way they are on screen, and I could also explain to talents, why things need to be done in a certain way to make the product more marketable.
Personally, it built my confidence, I became more observant and intuitive, and I also got the ‘bug’ out of my system earlier on, so it doesn’t bite me when I get older. Let’s just say that I didn’t want to be 45 years old, regretting that I didn’t try it out when I could. Though, as much as I enjoyed my time dabbling in this and relished working alongside some of the most talented people in the region, I had a good run and as I progressed further up in my career, I knew my destiny was to continue with my passion in marketing and growing products.
4) What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I like to hang out with loved ones, close friends and family. You meet differing personalities on a daily basis and that’s always great. However, as I progress and grow older, I’ve come to realize the importance of appreciating those who has always been there no matter what, as strong values are very important to me. So I like to plan outings and activities surrounding this premise – birthdays, Christmas and New Years, alongside other fun stuff that people do.
Just like everyone else, I enjoy trying out new restaurants (my favourites are Ngam, Erawan, Neon Pigeon, Mozza), cocktail bars (favourites include 28 Hongkong Street, Manhattan Bar, Flagship, Native and The Locker & Loft) and having unique travel destinations and experiences. I was lucky enough to catch the Aurora Borealis and swim in the Blue Lagoon, both in Reykjavik, Iceland, saw the cast of Slumdog Millionaire leave the Kodak Theatre in front of me after winning Best Picture, saw the cast of Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives in the flesh, listened to jazz at the Former French Concession in Shanghai, went scuba diving in a popular wreck called USS Liberty in Bali and attended mass service at the Notre-Dame Cathedral and days later, watched a performance of The Moulin Rouge, both in Paris.
5) We caught you volunteering several times over at the animal shelter. We take it you’re an animal lover?
I’m definitely an animal lover, especially dogs! We’ve always had dogs at home while I was growing up and at times, there will be 2 – 3 of them roaming around our gardens. I love puppies, their intuition and the unconditional loyalty that they possess to their owners. My dog always could sense it when I was either sick or unhappy and will jump on my lap to console and comfort me. That’s really what sets dogs apart from all other animals.
In Singapore, I volunteer at the Animal Lovers League, which is the largest no-kill shelter in the island-state, with over 700 dogs, cats and other domesticated animals. Besides donations, I try to visit and help them out with chores as often as I can, together with a group of friends. You will find that it’s all the relatively simple tasks that will go a long way in making a difference because the shelter will save on maintenance costs, and the funds can go to the welfare of the animals themselves.
6) Share with us an example of a genuinely awesome moment you had pertaining to your passion.
I’ve had plenty of awesome moments with doggies, but an experience worth mentioning would be when a group of friends and I took the entire afternoon to clean up the filter in the dog swimming pool at Animal Lovers League, and then build a retaining wall to assist with the drainage system of the shelter. Days later, it was rewarding to see all the cute doggies in the shelter jumping in and playing with each other in the pool.
7) You told us the other day that you and some friends started a clothing line called OOH! My Baju. Talk to us about that.
This was four years ago. My partners Melati, Joanne and I realized that there was a gap in the market when it came to contemporary traditional wear, especially with embellishments. So we decided to start a simple clothing line consisting of baju kurung, kebayas, kaftans and hijabs, sold online. A name that cuts across languages and dialects, “OOH!” was chosen because it is a term in every language that is used to display happiness, express amazement, show satisfaction, and create excitement. ‘OOH! My Baju’ literally means ‘OOH! My Outfit’ in English. We always incorporate fun and playful designs to spread positivity and unity among our customers, as we believe that traditional ethnic wear has always been part of the Asian culture and in this case Malaysian ethnic wear worn by all ethnicities during special occasions, at work and at play.
Our fabrics, materials and embellishments are sourced locally and all over the region. The pieces are then designed in KL and Singapore and sewn and beaded by traditional home tailors who are exceptional at their craft. The best part about this venture is that it has always been a social enterprise, back when social enterprises weren’t even the ‘in’ thing to do. Since day one, we’ve been providing part-time employment to talented craftsmen, most of them consisting of single mothers or persons from economically-disadvantaged backgrounds.
8) What do you ALWAYS have in your bag?
The answer is simple – my phone! I can’t live without it, ask anyone who knows me! Haha!
9) So what’s next on your list?
Improving on my current skillset for sure — on the list is learning Mandarin and coding, two very distinct yet equally important languages to master. I think I’ve procrastinated enough, check in with me in 2018! Oh and I need to read at least one book a month – to think that I used to be able to read one every week!
Dawn with her favourite miniature dachshund, Baileys
At one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Blue Lagoon in Iceland
Behind the scenes on set during her University days
Wreck diving in Bali
Watching a performance in Moulin Rouge, Paris
One of Dawn’s published articles on content marketing